It’s the morning of All Saint’s Day; as Halloween revelers are stumbling home in a stupor at the break of dawn, I’m having a quick breakfast and getting ready to head out.
I’ll reference this article on day tours at Pandin Lake as that’s where we got some basic information for the trip, plus give my own account of the day’s adventures.
Getting to the Lakes in San Pablo
From where I’m staying in Alabang all I have to do is get a jeep to South Station, where I’m meeting my friend and catching a bus headed to San Pablo—the City of Seven Lakes.
At South Station, you’ll walk down to the provincial bus terminal and catch a bus heading to Lucena. Before you get on, make sure it stops in San Pablo.
There’s a 7-Eleven at South Station where you can grab snacks and coffee for the ride, which is only about two hours depending on traffic and how many stops the bus makes.
San Pablo is the city in the south of Laguna province and it features seven lakes in its vicinity.
Lakes Pandin and Yambo are about 10 to 15 kilometers away from the city proper so you’ll have to get a jeep and a trike there.
This was a little complicated for us because we got bad directions and ended up at the wrong tricycle terminal, so instead of the 80-100 pesos we expected to pay for a ride the driver was going to charge us 300.
Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of useful information about trike rides to the lakes, so that’s something you’ll have to figure out when you get to San Pablo by asking for directions or consulting a map.
In our case, we ended up getting on another jeep to a different terminal-like area closer to the lake and getting a cheaper ride from there. However, the path to Lake Pandin–where we got dropped off–turned out to be closed as some rocks were blocking it.
A tricycle driver offered to take us around to another pathway but he did charge us a bit for it. Later, on our way back into town, we ended up walking that blocked path anyway and climbing over the rocks.
The same driver was there waiting for us and took us to SM San Pablo where we had a late lunch after working up quite an appetite.
Lakes Pandin and Yambo
Yambo is a small lake surrounded by heavy foliage and it’s one short hike away from the slightly smaller and equally scenic lake Pandin.
We were ferried across both lakes on simple bamboo rafts with covered benches and a picnic table and taken to a relaxing waterfall where we could dive in.
The only day open for an out-of-town trip was rainy and overcast so it was a bit chilly but not enough to stop us from swimming in the beautiful, clear water.
The average depth of Pandin Lake, where we took a swim, is 63 meters and because many people can’t swim here they will make you wear a life jacket before getting in.
The jackets were pretty annoying so I mostly kept mine nearby; one cannot go underwater with a vest on after all. Granted it made the ferry guys a little uneasy at first but who jumps into a lake with a life jacket on?
The water was wonderfully refreshing and just a few hours at the lakes was enough to wash away weeks of city stress.
Eventually, we got cold and hungry enough that we were ready to leave. After lunch and a coffee, we waited outside of SM San Pablo for a bus heading back to Alabang and two hours or so later we were back at South Station.
Because it was late afternoon, the bus we caught back to the city was pretty packed and we ended up standing most of the way home. Not to worry: the day was so relaxing that we couldn’t be bothered by a thing so slight as an over-crowded bus.
Bus to San Pablo – 97.50 pesos per person, one way
Jeep – 8 pesos per person, per ride
Trike – more or less whatever you can negotiate depending on where you get the trike
Raft tour (without food) – 600 pesos
Fresh buko juice (water out of a coconut) – 25 pesos per coconut
For two people, you can budget about 1,000 pesos for the travel and lake tour and add some for food. There are plenty of cheap lunch option in town, including Inasal at SM San Pablo where you can get tasty grilled chicken and unlimited rice for just over 100 pesos per meal.
There you have it: that’s all you need to get out of the city and dunk your head in some fresh water to clear away the stress.